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Final Reflection, 2015-16

This seminar has been an incredibly rewarding experience, both in terms of my research and teaching. I want to echo something that Dominique brought up about this being a “regenerative” space: the intellectual component – especially in the interdisciplinary setting – was remarkable, and made me consider many texts and approaches that I would not have thought about otherwise. In my experience thus far, such spaces for faculty are rather rare: many of us joked that this was like graduate school, minus the constant performance that such a setting demands, and I think that this comparison is somewhat apt. The exchanges in the seminar gave me the necessary push to take my scholarship in new directions, and to return to many of the sci-fi and speculative works I had always enjoyed, but had yet to research/teach in a more serious fashion.

My LIB 200 section on AI in film/on TV was a fabulous teaching experience: students were engaged in the content; we had rigorous conversations around what it means to be “human,” consciousness, and the Singularity; and they created media projects that spoke to the debates and issues we explored together. I look forward to teaching the topic again in the near future. In my ENG 101 classes next year, I am using texts from both years of the NEH seminar to explore our relationship with technology and the future of technological enhancement; we’ll start with Sherry Turkle (and several detractors), along with Greene and Cohen’s essay on free will and the criminal justice system from Neuroethics, and excerpts from Kaku’s work on memory. All of these will be read in conjunction with viewing episodes from the sci-fi anthology Black Mirror: Turkle’s work on empathy and technology will be read alongside “National Anthem,” discussions on free will, punishment, and voyeurism with “White Bear,” and memory enhancement technologies will pair with “The Entire History of You.” The ENG 101 students will also be asked to execute digital media projects, riffing on course content –  just as the LIB 200 students did (though with a different content focus). Clearly, many of the texts and conversations from the NEH seminar directly impacted my teaching.

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